Common ways to fight a DUI or DWI charge

If you are charged with a DUI involving alcohol or drugs in Pennsylvania, you will face multiple penalties. You might face a suspension of your driving privileges, stiff fines, jail time, and other penalties. You should get help from an experienced DUI defense lawyer at DiCindio Law for help with defending against the charges against you. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, it may be possible to defend against the allegations and to win a dismissal of the charges against you. Your lawyer will analyze everything to decide whether you should fight your case through trial or should try to negotiate a plea to settle the charges against you. Some of the most common defenses to DUI charges in Pennsylvania are detailed below.

Lack of reasonable suspicion for your stop

In Pennsylvania, police officers must have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a violation has been committed by a driver before they can stop them. Reasonable suspicion is not simply a hunch but instead must be based on objective facts. If an officer stopped you because he or she thought that you looked suspicious, but you had not committed any traffic offense, your attorney might be able to get the charges against you dismissed because of the unconstitutional stop.

Lack of probable cause for your arrest

After an officer stops you, he or she will investigate to determine whether there is probable cause to place you under arrest. Probable cause is more than reasonable suspicion but is less than the burden of proof that the prosecutor will have in proving your guilt at trial. The officer might try to build probable cause through his or her observations of your appearance, speech, and motor control. He or she might ask you to submit to standardized field sobriety tests and ask you to submit a preliminary breath test. All of these activities are geared toward building probable cause to support your arrest. If the officer did not have probable cause, your attorney may file a motion challenging the arrest and the admissibility of any chemical tests that were performed afterward. If your lawyer wins, the prosecutor will not be able to use the evidence against you. This could result in a plea offer to lesser charges or a dismissal of the case against you.

Improperly conducted roadblocks and checkpoints

The police are allowed to conduct DUI roadblocks and checkpoints. However, there are specific rules for how they may be conducted. Any checkpoint or roadblock must be announced in advance through the media and signs. It must be stationary, and the administration must decide to conduct the checkpoint rather than the police officers deciding to do it themselves. The decision about who to stop must be objectively based rather than based on an officer’s decision. For example, a roadblock might be used to stop every sixth car that passes through but not to stop someone that an officer simply wants to check out. Finally, the stop must be brief, and the officers are not allowed to search the vehicle. If you were stopped and arrested at a DUI checkpoint or roadblock, your lawyer will review how the DUI checkpoint was planned and conducted to see if it complied with the rules.

Problems with the breath test

Breath tests are the most frequently used type of chemical testing in DUI cases. However, breath tests may have several problems, including the following:

  • Tests conducted improperly
  • Gastric reflux within a 20-minute window
  • Instrument problems
  • Failing to observe the person before the test

If the machine is not calibrated correctly, the results may be inaccurate. Other problems can also happen. Your lawyer can request records from the police department to check its calibration and certification. He or she might also ask for information about the officer’s certifications and investigate any problems that occurred. If there were problems, your lawyer might challenge the breath test results to try to get them suppressed.

Residual alcohol in your mouth

A breathalyzer tests the contents of your breath from the deep lung tissue. However, you can have residual alcohol in your mouth that can distort the results. For example, if you suffer from acid reflux, have burped or vomited, or have alcohol-soaked particles trapped in your teeth, your breath test results can be falsely high.

Following a ketogenic or Atkins diet

Many people follow low-carb diets to try to lose weight. Diets such as Atkins or the ketogenic diet try to get people to enter a state called ketosis so that their bodies will burn fat. Ketosis causes your body to produce excess ketones, which can cause you to fail a blood-alcohol breath test even if you have not been drinking. When ketones are eliminated in your breath, they are converted to isopropyl alcohol. Breath tests cannot distinguish between ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol. If you are on a ketogenic diet, tell your attorney.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions, including hypoglycemia and diabetes, can also cause your body to produce isopropyl alcohol similar to a ketogenic or Atkins diet. When fat stores in your body are burned for energy, ketones are produced and can cause falsely high BAC results on breath tests.

Problems with blood testing

Like breath tests, blood tests are not infallible. Several factors can taint your blood test results, including the following:

  • Improper storage of your sample
  • Blood contamination
  • Blood fermentation
  • Improper analysis
  • Technicians without the proper training or certification

Your attorney might request that your second vial of blood is submitted to a test to determine the accuracy of your test results. He or she might also look at records of how your blood sample was stored and request information about the chain of custody. Finally, he or she might look at how your blood was drawn and the certifications and training of the technician who performed the analysis. If there were problems, your blood test may be suppressed.

Problems with the field sobriety tests

While the standardized field sobriety tests are supposed to show indicators of impairment, they are not completely accurate. Only three of the tests have data to support them. Another problem is that the SFSTs must also be administered precisely and scored correctly. Many law enforcement officers make mistakes in administering the field sobriety tests. People also mess up on these tests because of such things as a lack of coordination, footwear problems, uneven surfaces, poor lighting, bad weather, and intimidation. Some people have medical conditions that cause nystagmus to naturally occur in their eyes. Your attorney might carefully review any video of your SFSTs and your medical records if you have a medical condition that affects your eyes.

Lack of impairment

In some cases, a person will show little or no impairment yet have a BAC that is high and should cause impairment. This type of case might indicate that something is wrong with your test, and the evidence should not be trusted. If there is a disconnect between your observed level of impairment and your BAC level, your attorney will investigate to figure out what went wrong with the test process.

You were not driving, operating a vehicle, or in actual physical control

To convict you of a DUI, the prosecutor will be required to prove that you were driving or operating a vehicle or that you were in actual physical control of it at the time of your stop. If an officer did not see you driving or found you sleeping in the backseat of your car when it is off without access to the keys, the prosecutor will have a difficult time proving that you were driving under the influence of alcohol.

Radio or electric interference

Electromagnetic and radio frequency interference can cause DUI chemical tests to provide falsely high BAC results. This is because electronic devices can interfere with the tests. While the prosecutor might argue that the breathalyzer machine has an RFI or EFI detector, the detectors on the machines are not reliable. This type of defense might be difficult to prove, but your attorney might consider it if a potential source of interference emits electromagnetic or radio waves in a specific frequency band that the detectors can’t detect.

Challenges based on the BAC error rate

Even if the police officer did not make mistakes when he or she administered your BAC test, the BAC tests that are used in Pennsylvania still have error rates. The error rates of Pennsylvania DUI tests range from 0.005% to 0.02%. If your BAC tested from 0.08% to 0.099%, your attorney might challenge the results based on the error rates. This is because your BAC might have been lower at the time than the minimum of 0.08% under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(b).

Misconduct by the police

If you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your charges might still be dismissed if the police officers engaged in misconduct. Police officers must follow proper procedures and must write accurate reports, comply with the rules that govern investigations, and testify truthfully. If the police officer ignores the procedures or fabricates evidence, the evidence that was unlawfully obtained or fabricated might be tossed out of court. If the misconduct was severe, the prosecutor might dismiss the charges against you.

Auto-brewery syndrome

A rare condition called auto-brewery syndrome has made the headlines across the U.S. in DUI cases. People might develop this condition as a side effect of diseases, including Crohn’s disease, short bowel syndrome, and diabetes. People who eat a diet that is high in carbohydrates and who also overuse antibiotics might develop this syndrome.

If you have auto-brewery syndrome, your gut can produce alcohol by fermenting carbohydrates that you have ingested. This is because of the presence of yeast in your small intestine. If you had a very high BAC and had not consumed any alcohol, your lawyer might ask for you to be tested for this condition. If you have it, your lawyer might get the court and the prosecutor to agree to dismiss your charges. Fortunately, this condition can be treated so that it will not cause further problems in the future.

Get help from DiCindio Law

Being charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania can be scary. However, you might have one of these or other defenses available to you. An experienced DUI defense lawyer at DiCindio Law can review all of the evidence in your case to identify the defenses that might be raised. Contact us to schedule a consultation by filling out our contact form or by calling us at 610.430.3535.

Commercial DUI regulations

In Pennsylvania, people who have commercial driver’s licenses must follow a much stricter standard than other drivers under state and federal laws for driving while impaired. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established regulations governing people who drive buses, commercial trucks, and other commercial vehicles. If you have a CDL and drive for a living, the stakes will be much higher for you than they are for other drivers. If you are charged with a DUI as a commercial driver, you can face both criminal penalties and consequences to your career. DiCindio Law represents people who are facing CDL DUI charges and can talk to you about the options that you might have.

Who is covered by the FMCSA regulations about alcohol and drug use?

The FMCSA regulations about alcohol and drug use by commercial drivers govern both employers and drivers. Some examples of the parties that may be covered by the regulations include the following:

  • People and companies that own or lease commercial vehicles
  • Companies that assign routes to CDL drivers
  • Local, state, and federal governments
  • Civic organizations that transport passengers
  • Bus companies
  • Schools
  • Private motor carriers
  • For-hire motor carriers
  • Truck and bus drivers

Blood alcohol limits under the FMCSA regulations

The blood alcohol limits under the FMCSA regulations are 0.04% for commercial drivers. Most states, including Pennsylvania, have adopted the blood alcohol limits as established by the FMCSA for commercial truck drivers. Under federal regulations, commercial drivers are also not allowed to drive commercial vehicles within four hours of consuming alcohol.

Alcohol and drug tests for CDL drivers under FMCSA regulations

Under the FMCSA regulations, commercial drivers are required to submit to random alcohol tests. They are also required to submit to alcohol or drug tests after being involved in accidents or when there is a reasonable suspicion that they might be under the influence. Drivers might also be required to submit to alcohol or drug tests as a condition of returning to work after violating an alcohol or drug policy. Finally, drivers may be required to submit to drug tests as a condition of employment.

If a commercial driver refuses to submit to a breath or blood test after being stopped and arrested for a DUI, the driver will face harsher penalties. Under the FMCSA’s regulations, a refusal is treated the same way as being found guilty of a DUI.

Impact of a commercial DUI

While commercial drivers are subject to lower BAC thresholds, they can be charged with DUIs despite the fact that they are below the state’s legal limit for non-commercial drivers. A CDL DUI can also result in a longer period of disqualification than a traditional DUI. In Pennsylvania, a first DUI conviction as a CDL driver will result in a one-year disqualification.

Unlike other people who commit first DUI offenses, a CDL driver cannot avoid a driver’s license suspension by participating in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program. If a CDL driver has two convictions for major traffic offenses, including a DUI, he or she will be disqualified from driving with a CDL for life. Getting a DUI as a CDL driver can result in a loss of your career.

As a CDL holder, you must notify your employer within 30 days after you are convicted of any traffic violation. For example, if you are convicted of a DUI in your car while you were not working, you must tell your employer. If your DUI causes your license to be suspended, your employer cannot employ you as a driver during the suspension period. It can be very difficult for CDL drivers who have DUIs on their records to find work.

Penalties for a first-offense commercial DUI in Pennsylvania

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(f), you can be convicted of a commercial DUI if you are a commercial driver with a BAC of 0.04% or higher within two hours of driving. However, if you are a school bus driver, the BAC limit is 0.02%. The penalties for a first-offense CDL DUI include the following:

  • Minimum two days up to six months in jail
  • Fines and charges from $500 to $5,000
  • Suspension of your regular driver’s license for at least 12 months
  • Disqualification of your CDL license for 12 months or three years for a HazMat endorsement

Other penalties that are required for a first-offense CDL DUI include attending an alcohol highway safety school, complying with any alcohol or drug treatment that might be ordered by the judge, and possibly completing 150 hours of community service.

Penalties for a second CDL DUI offense in Pennsylvania

If you are convicted of a second DUI offense as a CDL driver in Pennsylvania, you will face the following penalties:

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Lifetime disqualification for a CDL license
  • 18-month suspension of your regular driver’s license
  • 90 days to five years in jail
  • Fine of $1,500 up to $10,000
  • 150 hours of community service
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Comply with alcohol and drug treatment if ordered

If you are convicted of a third DUI offense with a BAC of 0.16% or higher, it is a third-degree felony. All fourth convictions are also third-degree felonies that carry prison time.

Get help from an experienced CDL DUI attorney at DiCindio Law

If you are facing charges for a commercial DUI or have a CDL license and have been charged with a DUI in your car during your off-hours, it is crucial for you to talk to an experienced DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. Because of the high stakes involved for CDL drivers, you should not accept a plea without an attorney’s advice. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a free consultation by filling out our contact form or calling us at 610.430.3535.

Are DUI/DWI roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints legal?

In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with a DUI after you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint and found to be under the influence of alcohol. DUI checkpoints are controversial, but they are legal in Pennsylvania as long as they are conducted properly. DUI checkpoints are stationary and well-marked and are conducted by law enforcement officers over several hours. The officers do not need reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle at a checkpoint. Instead, they must rely on a predetermined standard for who to pull over when people drive through the checkpoint. If you have been charged with a DUI after being pulled over at a DUI checkpoint, the legal team at DiCindio Law in West Chester is available to help.

How DUI checkpoints work in Pennsylvania

DUI checkpoints must be planned by police administrators and not by the police officers themselves. The police must advertise the DUI checkpoint in the media and with signs. The administrators must choose an objective standard to determine which vehicles to stop. For example, the administrators might decide that every 10th vehicle will be stopped or use some other objective standard.

When you drive through a DUI checkpoint, the police might stop you if you meet the predetermined objective standard. If you are stopped, you must roll down your window to talk to the officer. He or she might ask you if you have been drinking. If you say yes, or if the officer makes observations that lead him or her to believe that you have been drinking, you might be asked to move forward to the second area of the checkpoint. Once you are there, you will be asked to perform field sobriety tests.

Under Pennsylvania law, you have the right to refuse the field sobriety tests and the preliminary breath test, which are tests that are performed at the roadside. You also do not have to answer questions other than requests for your license, name, insurance, and registration. If you are asked other questions, you can politely refuse to answer. Do not give any information beyond your basic contact details without talking to an attorney. Anything that you say to the police can be used by the prosecutor in the case against you. If you are arrested, you will be asked to submit to a breath or blood test. Unlike the field sobriety tests and the PBT, you do not have the right to refuse these post-arrest tests. Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test will result in a suspension of your license and other penalties. The prosecutor will also be allowed to use your refusal as evidence against you at trial.

If you can avoid a DUI checkpoint lawfully, you can do so. For example, if you see a sign for a checkpoint ahead and have an opportunity to turn off of the road onto a side street or into a parking lot, you can do it. The officers will not have any reason to stop you for legally turning around or turning onto a side street. However, they might still try. However, your attorney might successfully get any charges thrown out if you were stopped merely because an officer had a hunch that you might be driving drunk but has not developed reasonable suspicion to support the stop.

Are DUI checkpoints constitutional?

In Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990), the U.S. Supreme Court held that DUI checkpoints are constitutional and are not illegal searches and seizures. The court held that DUI checkpoint stops are lawful because the public’s interest outweighed the intrusion of the stop.

In Pennsylvania, DUI checkpoints are allowed under 75 Pa.C.S. § 6308(b). This statute authorizes police to stop vehicles either during a systematic program or when they have reasonable suspicion to believe a violation has occurred. Since the statute includes a reference to a systematic program, this statute has been interpreted as giving legal authority to establish DUI checkpoints in Pennsylvania. The state will have the burden of proof that the checkpoint was conducted constitutionally, however.

When is a DUI checkpoint legal?

For a DUI checkpoint to be legal in Pennsylvania, the police must adhere to guidelines that have been created that govern how the checkpoint must be established and conducted. To determine whether a specific checkpoint was legal, the court will look at how intrusive it was and whether the police followed specific procedures in a non-discriminatory way.

When a DUI checkpoint does not fully comply with the guidelines, an experienced DUI defense lawyer will file a motion to suppress all of the evidence that was gathered. Your lawyer might look at the following factors to determine whether the checkpoint and stop were constitutional:

  • Whether your stop was brief or lengthy
  • Whether the public was notified in advance of the checkpoint
  • Who was involved in deciding to set up the checkpoint
  • The statistical information and documents that were used to decide to conduct the DUI checkpoint at its location
  • Whether there is evidence that the checkpoint had prior administrative approval
  • Whether the police followed an objective guideline for determining which cars to stop
  • How the police conducted the checkpoint
  • Why the officer decided to request SFTs
  • The names and employment affiliations of all of the officers who participated in the checkpoint

After reviewing all of this information, your attorney will be able to provide you with guidance about your options.

Get help from DiCindio Law

Being stopped and arrested for a DUI at a DUI checkpoint can be frightening. If you are facing charges, an attorney from DiCindio Law can help you by determining whether the checkpoint was conducted lawfully. Your lawyer can then talk to you about the best way to proceed. Contact our law firm today to schedule a consultation by filling out our contact form or calling us at 610.430.3535.

How long does it take to receive DUI charges in PA?

People who are arrested for DUI offenses normally are not provided with complaints by the arresting officers. A complaint is a document that lists the charges against people who are charged with crimes. Typically, an officer will wait until blood test results arrive or wait to file the complaint even though a breath test was administered. Instead, you might be told that your summons will be mailed to you when you are released from custody. The summons to appear tells you when to appear in court for your preliminary hearing and may not be mailed to you for several weeks after you receive the complaint. In some cases, a couple of months might pass before a driver receives the summons to appear and the complaint. If you have been arrested for a DUI, an attorney at DiCindio Law can explain what to expect next.

What happens when someone is arrested for a DUI?

When people are arrested for DUI offenses, they are transported to the police station and will be asked to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test. Breath tests use machines to analyze the amount of alcohol contained in a person’s breath. If the officer wants to obtain blood samples, the person will be transported to a hospital so that a phlebotomist or nurse can draw it. For blood testing, two vials of blood are drawn and sent to a laboratory. The analysis of blood samples can take three or more weeks, and the blood test results will not be provided until the analysis is completed.

Police officers rarely ask people to provide urine samples. However, an officer might request a urine sample for a DUI offense in which the officer suspects that drugs might be involved.

When you drive in Pennsylvania, you are considered to have given your implied consent to chemical testing when you are asked to do so by an officer. However, police officers still need to establish probable cause to arrest you and to take you to the police station to test your breath or to the hospital to get blood samples.

After your release from custody

After you are released from custody, you will be mailed a summons to appear and a complaint. Instead of waiting to talk to an attorney until after you receive these documents, it is a good idea to get help from a lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest. This will give your lawyer more time to conduct an initial investigation. Interviewing witnesses soon after the event occurred might help to make certain that they remember things accurately. If an accident happened, getting pictures of the scene and the damage can be important.

Time for the complaint and summons

In some cases, the complaint will be filed in court before the lab results return. In these cases, the prosecutor will disclose the blood test results during the preliminary hearing. The summons and complaint are typically mailed to defendants within 15 to 30 days after their arrests.

The preliminary hearing

The summons to appear will provide you with the court name, court date, and the time for you to appear at your preliminary hearing. This hearing gives your lawyer the chance to talk with the arresting officer and the prosecutor. In some cases, the officer might agree to withdraw the complaint or some of the charges. The preliminary hearing also gives your lawyer the chance to question the officer and other witnesses that the prosecutor might call at the hearing. The preliminary hearing is held to allow the prosecutor to present evidence establishing probable cause to believe that the DUI charges occurred. Establishing probable cause doesn’t require nearly as much evidence as what a prosecutor has to present at a jury or bench trial. If the court finds that the prosecutor has established probable cause, the case will be scheduled for further proceedings.

Attorneys may contact the police officers before the preliminary hearing to find out what the blood test results are. Many times, the police officers do not return the calls. However, if a lawyer can learn what the results are before the preliminary hearing, he or she can explain the potential penalties for the DUI offense based on the client’s BAC level. In Pennsylvania, there are three tiers for DUI offenses that are based on your BAC level. If you are convicted for a DUI offense, your breath or blood test results will determine the penalties that you will face. The highest BAC offense level or drug DUIs will carry much greater penalties than lower-level DUI offenses.

Blood test results might not be available on the date of the preliminary hearing. This can happen when the police officers send the samples to the state lab instead of a private lab for analysis. When this happens, a lawyer might ask for the preliminary hearing to be rescheduled for a later date. The attorney might try to reach the police officer before the scheduled hearing date to find out whether the blood test results are back so that he or she can request a continuance from the court if necessary.

Get help from an experienced lawyer at DiCindio Law

If you are arrested based on an officer’s suspicion that you were driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, you should get legal help. An experienced DUI defense attorney might begin working on your case before the preliminary hearing. Depending on the facts and circumstances, it is possible for a lawyer to get the officer to withdraw the complaint before the preliminary hearing. You should not wait to contact an attorney until the complaint and summons arrive in the mail. When you do this, you prevent your lawyer from taking important initial steps in investigating your case. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation so that you can learn more about your case and what to expect by calling our firm at (630) 430-3535 or by filling out our contact form.

What does DUI per se mean?

Pennsylvania has two main categories of DUI offenses, including general impairment DUIs and per se DUIs. How the prosecutor proves a DUI case will depend on whether it is a general impairment or per se DUI. The prosecutor can secure a conviction for a per se DUI by showing that you drove with an amount of drugs or alcohol in your body that was above the legal limit. To prove a general impairment DUI, the prosecutor will need to show that the alcohol or other substances that you consumed impacted your cognitive or physical ability to drive. IF you have been charged with either a general impairment or a per se DUI offense, the legal team at DiCindio Law is prepared to help you.

Per Se DUI’s In Pennsylvania

When you drive or operate a vehicle in Pennsylvania, the legal limit for your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(a)(2). If you drive with a BAC at this level or higher, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI. The police might ask you to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test after your arrest to determine your BAC. If it is 0.08% or higher, the prosecutor can file a per se DUI charge against you.

A prosecutor will not be required to prove that you were intoxicated or that you were impaired to prove a per se DUI. He or she will only have to prove that your BAC was 0.08% to 0.099% to convict you of the lowest level DUI charge. Pennsylvania has three per se DUI levels, including 0.08% to 0.99% for the lowest level DUI. The high BAC per se DUI can be charged if your BAC is from 0.10% to 0.159%, and the highest BAC per se DUI can be charged if your BAC is from 0.16% or higher. If you have any amount of drugs in your system, you can be charged with the highest BAC DUI offense regardless of your level of impairment.

For example, if you have a few drinks but are not impaired and are pulled over by an officer for a burned-out taillight, the officer can still charge you with a per se DUI if your BAC tests at 0.08%. This means that you could be convicted of a per se DUI and face the penalties even if your driving was not impaired.

Pennsylvania’s Implied Consent Laws

Like every other state, Pennsylvania has an implied consent law that is codified at 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547. Under this law, you are deemed to have given your implied consent to submit to a chemical or breath test in Pennsylvania when you drive or operate a vehicle in the state.

If you are arrested for a suspected DUI and refuse to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, you will face administrative penalties, including a suspension of your driver’s license for 12 to 18 months, a restoration fee ranging from $500 to $2,000, and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device. The length of your suspension and the size of your fine will depend on if it is your first refusal or if you have a prior DUI conviction or refusal. People who refuse a breath or blood test will also face penalties for the highest-level BAC even if their actual impairment was much lower.

How Are Impairment DUI’s Handled?

If you did not submit to a breath or blood test, the prosecutor can still try to prove that you are guilty of an impairment DUI. In this type of case, the prosecutor will focus on the officer’s observations of your behavior, speech, motor coordination, appearance, and driving. Since there is not a clear definition of what constitutes impairment, these types of DUI cases are more difficult for prosecutors to prove.

The prosecutor will have to present evidence to prove that your ability to drive was negatively impacted by the drugs or alcohol that you consumed. Some examples of the types of evidence that a prosecutor might present include the following:

  • Weaving or other erratic driving
  • Performing poorly on the field sobriety tests
  • Slurred speech
  • Watery, bloodshot eyes
  • Odor of alcohol
  • Odd behavior

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(a)(1), you can be convicted of a general impairment DUI if the amount of alcohol or drugs that you consumed was enough to render you incapable of safely operating or driving a motor vehicle. Beyond this description, no guidance is provided about what level of impairment is required for you to be convicted of a DUI.

Defending Against A Per Se DUI In Pennsylvania

People who are charged with per se DUI offenses in Pennsylvania are may fight their cases. In these cases, the defense will often focus on issues such as the accuracy of the testing process, the calibration of the machine, the administrator’s qualifications, the chain of custody problems, and other similar issues.

An experienced defense attorney will carefully review the data from the testing process and the records from the machine’s certifications, calibrations, and repairs. If you submitted a blood test, he or she might ask for the second vial of blood to be tested to review and compare the results. He or she might also challenge the chain of custody or how the samples were stored. A lawyer might also explain whether it is a better idea to negotiate with the prosecutor for a plea offer to a lesser offense or if you should move forward to challenge the charge at a trial.

Get Help From DiCindio Law

If you have been charged with a per se DUI offense in Pennsylvania, you should retain an experienced DUI defense attorney from DiCindio Law as soon as possible. We can review the evidence in your case and explain the options that you have. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling 610.430.3535 or by filling out our online contact form.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Pennsylvania?

If you are facing charges for driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, you might wonder how long the offense will remain on your record. A drunk driving charge is a misdemeanor criminal offense and will appear on your criminal, credit, driving, and insurance records. Criminal convictions in Pennsylvania are considered to be public records. If you are convicted of a DUI, your record will be updated in the National Driver Register with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The national credit reporting agencies will be notified and can include the information about your DUI conviction in your credit history. This means that when a potential landlord, employer, insurance company, or car rental agency asks for a credit report or background check, they will see your DUI conviction unless you are given limited access relief or have it expunged. DiCindio Law can defend against your DUI charge or help you to gain limited access relief to prevent most people from being able to see it.

Consequences of having a DUI on your record

Being convicted of a DUI means that you will face multiple penalties, including potential jail or prison time, substantial fines, alcohol classes, and others. Once you complete your sentence, a DUI conviction can cause ongoing problems in many areas of your life, including employment, housing, and insurance rates.

Many employers ask applicants to submit to background checks for employment. Some companies cannot hire workers who have prior convictions for driving under the influence, and others refuse to hire people who have DUI convictions. Employers that enter into government contracts or that have their employees drive company vehicles may be unable to hire you if you have a DUI on your record. You might also encounter problems with obtaining a professional license for jobs that require them, including real estate agents and attorneys.

Like employers, many landlords and property managers ask applicants to submit to criminal and credit background checks before they will agree to lease apartments or homes. Any type of criminal conviction on your record might cause a landlord or property manager to reject your rental application.

Having a DUI conviction on your record will cause your insurance rates to go up and can harm your ability to find affordable car insurance. Drivers in Pennsylvania who have DUI convictions on their records may have car insurance rates that are twice as much as people who do not have DUI convictions. Even if a DUI conviction was a first offense, it can continue to cause problems for you throughout your life.

Can DUIs in Pennsylvania be expunged?

Expunging a criminal conviction from your record means that it will be sealed from public and state views. DUI convictions can be expunged under limited circumstances. A DUI can be expunged if a court orders you to complete the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or ARD program after you successfully finish it. You have to apply for acceptance by the ARD program. If you complete it successfully, your DUI will be dismissed. This means that you will not have a conviction.

If you participate in the ARD program, you may be required to perform community service and participate in a substance abuse program. If you have any victims, you will be required to pay restitution to them. While you are participating in ARD, you will be supervised in the county where your DUI happened.

Pennsylvania

A DUI that was dismissed before or after a jury or bench trial can be expunged. In 2016, a new expungement law went into effect in Pennsylvania. Under this law, you might be able to secure limited access status for your DUI conviction. A conviction for which limited access has been ordered will only be accessible by state agencies and law enforcement agencies. It will not be viewable by most employers or landlords.

How do you obtain an expungement of a DUI?

To have a DUI expunged from your record in Pennsylvania, you must meet the requirements that are outlined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 9122 and file a petition with the court. However, there is no guarantee that your request will be granted. DiCindio Law can work to help you to expunge your DUI from your record if you are eligible, and we can discuss other options that might be available to you if you are not eligible for an expungement.

Is it possible to get a clear driver’s license in a different state?

In the past, it was sometimes possible for people to get clear driver’s licenses by going to different states. That is no longer possible, however. The driving records for people in every state are now included in the problem driver pointer system with the NHTSA. When you try to get a driver’s license in a new state, the motor vehicle department will check the national database to see the status of your license and your driving history nationwide. If you have a conviction or have previously had your license suspended, revoked, or denied, the department of motor vehicles in a new state will see it. This means that you will not be able to get a clear driver’s license in a new state.

Get help from an experienced attorney at DiCindio Law

The only way to prevent a DUI from causing problems in your life is to avoid being convicted. You can avoid a DUI conviction by not driving your vehicle while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, people make mistakes, and you might be facing a DUI charge.

A DUI charge is not evidence and does not mean that you will be convicted or have a permanent record of conviction. If you are facing DUI charges, you should seek help from an experienced DUI defense attorney at DiCindio Law. An experienced lawyer can review the evidence to identify potential defenses that might be available and explain the options that you have. Michael DiCindio has years of experience defending against DUI charges. Contact DiCindio Law today by calling (610) 430-3535 or by filling out our contact form.

How do I find out my BAC from a DUI?

Some drivers in Pennsylvania may be charged with DUI offenses before their blood test results come back. If you are charged with a DUI and are waiting for the blood test results, you might not learn your BAC level until your preliminary hearing. DiCindio Law can explain how different BAC levels might impact the penalties that you will face. If your BAC results appear to be inaccurate, your attorney can investigate how the testing and analysis were performed to identify potential problems.

How different BAC levels might affect you

When people drink, they might wonder how alcohol might affect their ability to drive. Different levels of alcohol in your blood can affect you differently.

When you have a BAC of 0.02% to 0.03%, you may have a slight loss of motor skills and a slightly euphoric feeling. This is the BAC that people who weigh less than 190 pounds will have after one drink.

If your BAC is between 0.04% to 0.06%, you might feel happy and uninhibited. You might experience a minor impairment of your mental functioning. This BAC level typically results in people who have two drinks when they weigh less than 190 pounds. People who weigh more than 190 pounds might have BACs in this range after three or four drinks.

If your BAC is 0.07% to 0.09%, your motor skills, judgment, speech, and self-control may all be impaired. This range is what most people have after drinking four or five drinks.

If your BAC falls from 0.10% to 0.125%, your speech will likely be slurred, and your motor control will be reduced. At this level, driving is dangerous.

A BAC that ranges from 0.13% to 015% makes your motor control to greatly decline. Any euphoric feelings that you previously experienced might be replaced by anger, depression, or anxiety. If your BAC is 0.16% or higher, you will likely be incapacitated. You may be nauseous and have trouble focusing. Very high BAC levels can result in vomiting, comas, and death.

Officers test your blood, breath, or urine to calculate what your BAC was at the time that you were driving. An experienced lawyer can contest these types of calculations to help people to avoid serious penalties.

Understanding the symptoms that are associated with various BAC levels can help you to make better decisions about driving. If you feel impaired by alcohol, you should opt to call a cab or to take public transportation instead of trying to drive yourself home.

How police test the blood alcohol concentration

Police officers test people to check their BAC levels by using breath tests, blood tests, or urine tests. Breath and blood tests are the most commonly used in Pennsylvania. However, all of these tests are subject to errors. If you receive a higher BAC result than you expected and are certain that you were not over the limit, you might have been drinking but were not impaired. It is also possible that you did not drink any alcohol, making it impossible for you to be drunk.

Reasons why you might have a higher BAC result after drinking

Some people may remain under the limit after having a couple of drinks. Others might still have alcohol in their systems from the previous night. If you feel tipsy, you are likely over the limit. If you do not, your BAC may be below 0.08%.

If you are sure that your BAC was not over the limit after you had a drink or two, it can be caused by testing errors, alcohol in your mouth, or a rising BAC level. Mistakes are sometimes made with testing. For example, breath tests may be inaccurate when the machines are not properly calibrated. Blood tests may be inaccurate when the sample is not properly tested, stored, or handled. When these problems occur, your lawyer might be able to have your test results declared to be inadmissible as evidence against you.

Breath tests test the air that is deep in your lungs. However, if you have an alcohol source in your mouth, the results can be wrong. For example, burping and acid reflux can skew breath test results. Using a mouth wash or breath spray can also do so. The police are supposed to wait for a certain time to pass after you burp before administering a breath test.

Alcohol is absorbed by the body from the stomach slowly. If a police officer waits too long to administer a test, your BAC can rise higher than it was when you were driving.

Finally, there is a margin of error with BAC tests. If your BAC results were near to the limit, you might not have been driving illegally. An attorney might be able to get the prosecutor to agree to reduce your charges or to dismiss your case.

Tests showing the presence of alcohol when you didn’t drink

In some cases, people are charged with DUIs when they have not drunk any alcohol. There are several reasons why you might receive a BAC result that is greater than the legal limit after you have not consumed any alcohol, including the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Following a ketogenic diet
  • Taking cold medications that contain alcohol
  • Using breath spray or mouth wash that contains alcohol

 

If you think that your BAC results are inaccurate, you should talk to an attorney. Call DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation at (610) 430-3535. You can also submit your information on our online contact form, and someone will get back to you.

Is it better to plead guilty or not guilty to a DUI?

When you are charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, you will not be required to plead guilty to the offense. Being charged with an offense does not mean that you are guilty. Even if you believe that you were driving while impaired, there are situations in which you should not plead guilty. If you plead guilty to a DUI, you will have a misdemeanor conviction on your record and face harsh penalties. The team at DiCindio Law can help you to figure out your legal options so that you might secure a better outcome.

Resolving DUI charges

In Pennsylvania, you have alternatives available to you to resolve your DUI charge. If you enter a guilty plea without talking to a DUI attorney, you will be convicted as charged and face criminal penalties. Pleading guilty early in a case also means that potential flaws in the state’s case might go undiscovered. When errors occurred, an attorney might have been able to get the charges dismissed. If you plead guilty, however, it is very unlikely that you will be allowed to withdraw your plea.

The facts and circumstances of your case help to determine what alternatives might be available to you. The most common choices are accepting a plea offer or entering a not guilty plea.

Negotiating a plea offer

Attorneys negotiate with the prosecutors to try to secure plea bargains to lesser charges than what their clients are facing. Prosecutors view plea bargains as a winning scenario because they are able to secure convictions. Plea bargains are also good for defendants because they receive reduced penalties. Courts encourage attorneys to negotiate plea bargains because their dockets are frequently packed. Allowing lesser crimes to be resolved through the plea bargaining process frees up the court’s time to try more important cases.

In Pennsylvania, some DUI cases can be resolved by agreements to plead guilty to reckless driving. While it is still more serious than other types of traffic violations, a conviction for reckless driving will normally not result in jail time and will have a much lower impact on your life than a DUI conviction might have.

Entering a not guilty plea

Another option that you have when you are facing DUI charges is to enter a not guilty plea. If the officer made mistakes in the stop, search, seizure, or investigation, a DUI defense lawyer at DiCindio Law might be able to win your case. Your lawyer will carefully evaluate the evidence and police reports in your case to try to identify mistakes that could be fatal to the state’s case against you.

What happens if you are convicted of a DUI?

Pennsylvania has harsh penalties for people who are convicted of DUI defenses. If your blood alcohol concentration is higher than the legal limit of 0.08% but lower than 0.10%, you can still face up to six months of probation, be forced to attend a traffic safety class, ordered to pay a $300 fine, and ordered to attend alcohol classes.

If you plead guilty to a DUI offense with a BAC that is 0.10% or higher, the potential penalties are much more serious. Even for a first offense, you can lose your driving privileges for one year, face potential time in jail, and receive fines of up to $5,000.

If you have prior DUI convictions, the penalties will also be more severe. It is important for you to try to avoid getting a single DUI conviction. If you plead guilty without thinking through your options, you may have missed an opportunity to protect your record and your future.

Why it is important to talk to a lawyer before pleading guilty to a DUI

An experienced DUI attorney in Pennsylvania might help you to avoid having a conviction for a DUI on your record. When you meet with your attorney at DiCindio Law, your lawyer will analyze the evidence and the police reports to identify the defenses that might be available to you. Prosecutors are required to prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt. If problems occurred during the investigation of your case, your defense attorney might use them to defend against your charges. If the evidence in your case is strong, your attorney might negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. This can help you to secure reduced charges and lesser penalties.

If you have been charged with a DUI, you should talk to an attorney at DiCindio Law as soon as possible. A lawyer might secure a better outcome for your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by submitting your information with our contact form or by calling us at (610) 430-3535.

What Is in the DUI Police Report?

If you are arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania, the police officer will write a police report. The officer’s report will document your arrest and the evidence against you. Normally, officers prepare their reports immediately after they arrest people for DUI offenses. After they write their reports, the officers submit them to the prosecutor’s office and the court. The report will also be sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. If you are facing DUI charges, you will want to get a copy of the police report. DiCindio Law can review it with you and explain your options.

Importance of the police report in DUI cases

The police report is among the most important documents in a DUI case because it contains the arresting officer’s observations of you and the circumstances that led to your arrest. When an officer testifies in a DUI case, he or she can ask for permission to refresh his or her recollection with the report. In most cases, officers testify to what is in their reports. If they deviate, it can harm the state’s case against you.

What is included in a DUI police report?

The police report in your DUI case will include information about what led the officer to pull your vehicle over, the stop itself, and observations that the officer made to make him or her that you were impaired by alcohol or drugs. Often, the police reports contain just enough information to justify your arrest and to result in a conviction.

The police report will contain the officer’s report about your driving, your appearance, your speech, any odors, and the results of any field sobriety tests that were conducted. The officer’s observations about your driving will be what led him or her to pull you over such as weaving, speeding, driving too slowly, or other indicators of impairment. Typical observations about people’s appearances in DUI reports include such things as watery, red eyes, a disheveled appearance, and others. The officer might note that he or she smelled alcohol on your breath or that your speech was slurred.

DUI police reports include a checklist for the various field sobriety tests, including the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn, and the one-legged stand. Horizontal gaze nystagmus is a twitch of the eye at an angle of less than 45 degrees. The officer will use a pen and ask you to track it with your eyes as it is moved from side to side to look for this indicator. If it is observed, the officer will note it in the DUI report.

The officer’s report of your performance on the other standardized field sobriety tests will also be included. If the officer questioned you, he or she will include the answers that you gave to his or her questions. Finally, the officer will include information about the chemical tests that were administered and include a printout of the results. If you took a preliminary breath test at the roadside, a printout of it will be included. If the officer administered a breathalyzer test to you at the police station, the results will be included together with the machine’s serial number. Lab reports will be included if you submitted to a urine or blood test.

What should you look for in a DUI police report?

Officers sometimes exaggerate the facts in their DUI reports to make defendants appear worse than they were. For example, the officer might say that you slurred your speech, had a disheveled appearance, had red eyes, and struggled to get your license out of your wallet to hand to the officer. Even if these statements are untrue, it will be difficult to fight them on your own. An experienced DUI defense attorney at DiCindio Law might challenge the report by contesting the accuracy and validity of the following things:

  • The blood, breath, or urine test results
  • Whether the field sobriety tests were conducted properly
  • The reason for your stop
  • Probable cause for your arrest

Blood and Urine Test

If you are able to call strong witnesses or have other evidence such as video or photos that contradict information that is contained in the officer’s report, it can be helpful. If your lawyer is able to prove that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to pull you over or failed to build sufficient probable cause for your arrest, some or all of the evidence against you may be deemed inadmissible. This can result in the dismissal or reduction of your charges.

Getting a copy of the police report

In most cases, you will not be able to see the police report until your first court appearance. Once the case is filed against you, your lawyer can request a copy of the police report as a part of the discovery process.

Contact DiCindio Law

When you are charged with a DUI, that does not mean that you will be found guilty of the offense. Police officers sometimes make mistakes when they stop vehicles, complete observations, and place people under arrest. An experienced DUI defense lawyer at DiCindio Law can review the police report and the evidence to identify any issues with how the stop, search, and seizure were conducted. Your lawyer can also examine the testing that was performed to identify any issues with the machine or the lab tests that were used. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation by filling out our online contact form or calling us at 610.430.3535.

How much time can you get for a DUI in PA?

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is treated seriously in Pennsylvania. If you are convicted of a DUI offense, you will face serious penalties. The consequences for a DUI conviction will depend on your blood alcohol concentration within two hours of driving and whether you have had any previous DUI convictions. DiCindio Law can help you to understand the penalties that you might face if you are convicted and the potential defenses that might be raised in your case.

How Pennsylvania classifies DUI offenses

Pennsylvania uses a three-tier DUI system to classify DUIs by the driver’s blood alcohol concentration when he or she is arrested. While the state has a threshold of 0.08% for DUI offenses, the penalties are increasingly more severe as the BAC level goes up. The three tiers of DUI offenses include general impairment DUIs, high BAC DUIs, and highest BAC DUIs. Similarly, the penalties increase for subsequent convictions at all three BAC levels.

First-offense DUIs in Pennsylvania

The penalties that you might face for a first-offense DUI conviction will depend on your BAC at the time of your arrest. General impairment DUI offenses may be charged if your BAC results fell between 0.08% and 0.99%. You may be charged with a high BAC DUI if your BAC tested from 0.10% and 0.159% within two hours of driving. Finally, you may be charged with the highest BAC DUI offense if your BAC tested at 0.16% or higher within two hours of driving.

Penalties for a first DUI offense

If you are convicted of a first DUI offense in Pennsylvania, the penalties that you will face will depend on your BAC level. The penalties for a first offense general impairment DUI include the following:

  • $300 fine
  • Up to six months of probation
  • Alcohol highway traffic school
  • Treatment if ordered

If you are convicted of a first high BAC DUI offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • 48 hours up to six months in jail
  • Fine from $500 to $5,000
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment may be ordered
  • License suspension for 12 months

If you are convicted of the highest BAC DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • 72 hours up to six months in jail
  • Fine from $1,000 up to $5,000
  • Suspension of your license for 12 months
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment if ordered

Options for a first-offense DUI

Pennsylvania offers the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or ARD program for first-time DUI offenders. You have to apply for acceptance to ARD to participate in it. If you are accepted and complete all of the requirements, your DUI charge will be dismissed. This can help you to avoid having a first DUI conviction on your record. You can then petition the court to have your DUI expunged from your record.

Penalties for second-offense DUIs in Pennsylvania

If you are convicted of a second DUI offense in Pennsylvania within 10 years, the penalties will be more severe at each BAC level. A second conviction for a general impairment DUI offense will carry the following penalties:

  • Five days up to six months in jail
  • Fines from $300 to $2,500
  • Suspension of your license for 12 months
  • Treatment may be ordered

If you are convicted of a second DUI with a high BAC, you will face the following penalties:

  • Jail from 30 days up to six months
  • Fines from $750 to $5,000
  • Suspension of your license for 12 months
  • Treatment may be ordered

If you are convicted of a second DUI with the highest BAC, you will face the following penalties:

  • From 90 days up to five years in prison
  • Fines from $1,500 to $10,000
  • Suspension of your license for 18 months

For second offenses at all BAC levels, you will be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for 12 months. The court will order you to complete up to 150 hours of community service.

Penalties for third DUI offenses

If you are convicted of a third DUI offense within 10 years, the penalties will become even more severe at each BAC level. A third general impairment DUI offense with a BAC of 0.8% but less than 0.10% is a second-degree misdemeanor that carries the following penalties:

  • At least 10 days in jail
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 12 months
  • Fine from $500 to $5,000

A third DUI offense within 10 years with a BAC of 0.10% up to 0.1599% will result in the following penalties:

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • 90 days up to five years in jail
  • Fine from $1,500 to $10,000
  • 18-month driver’s license suspension

If you are convicted of a third offense with a high or highest BAC level, you will face the following penalties:

  • Third-degree felony
  • From one to seven years in prison
  • Suspension of your license for 18 months
  • Fine from $2,500 to $15,000

The penalties for a third conviction at the highest BAC level are similar to those listed for the third conviction of a DUI at a high BAC level. All third convictions will also require you to attend an alcohol highway safety school, complete alcohol treatment, and install an ignition interlock system in your vehicle.

Penalties for minor DUI convictions

Pennsylvania has more serious penalties for minors who are convicted of DUI offenses. You can be convicted of a minor DUI if you are under age 21 and have a BAC of 0.02% or higher. For the first conviction of a minor DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • Jail from 48 hours up to six months
  • Fine from $500 to $5,000
  • 12-month license suspension
  • Drug and alcohol evaluation followed by potential treatment
  • Up to 150 hours of community service

A second conviction of a minor DUI will carry stiffer penalties. The minimum jail sentence will be increased to 30 days up to six months, and the fine will be increased to $750 up to $5,000. If you are convicted of a third minor DUI, you will face a minimum jail sentence of 90 days up to six months, and your fine will range from $1,500 up to $10,000.

Get help from DiCindio Law

Being convicted of a DUI will result in serious penalties. You should talk to an experienced defense attorney at DiCindio Law to learn about your rights and the options that you might have. Schedule a consultation by filling out our contact form or by calling us at 610.430.3535.